An Evansburg-area father has been sentenced to 23.5 years for sexually abusing his three daughters.
The 44-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect his victims, showed no reaction in the prisoner’s box as Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Vital Ouellette delivered his sentencing decision that was more than an hour long.
The man will get seven years credit for pre-trial custody.
Almost half the courtroom was filled with the offender’s family.
In February, the man pleaded guilty to ten criminal charges. He admitted he sexually assaulted his middle daughter many times every week for years.
The abuse began when she was only 12-years-old. When she was 16, he posted a naked picture of her on a website for adults looking for sexual partners.
Two encounters were arranged. She was naked, blindfolded and gagged as he drove her to meet an unknown man. One of the sexual assaults was videotaped.
She called her father “master” and he referred to her as “toy,” according to the agreed statement of facts.
The judge found that the human trafficking conviction was the most egregious of the father’s crimes, referring to it as an “unfortunate and terrible degradation.”
The judge had to view seven videos the father taped of his middle daughter’s encounter with one of the men who responded to the website ad.
The judge provided excruciating detail of what he watched the teenager endure while she was blindfolded and gagged on a mattress on the floor of a garage.
The father also pleaded guilty to making child pornography.
The judge’s voice broke as he referred to it as “objectification” and “a clear breach of trust.”
As Ouellete detailed the crimes, the father’s three daughters ran out of the courtroom.
After they returned, the judge apologized to them.
“I’m sorry I had to put so much detail in the facts earlier that all of you had to leave,” he said. “What that proves to me is how difficult this would have been for you.”
The eldest daughter, who has a developmental delay, was sexually assaulted twice. Her father forced her to have sexual contact with her sister while he watched, then, in turn, made her watch as he sexually assaulted her younger sister.
“She suffered severe psychological and emotional harm,” Ouellette said.
The youngest daughter was only 14-years-old when her father took her into a bedroom.
He told her to remove her clothes on her hands and knees while he put a gag in her mouth and pulled her hair.
‘He may be even morally bankrupt’
The judge noted the permanent impact the father’s abuse has had on his three daughters and the rest of his family.
“All have suffered psychological and emotional harm,” Ouellete said. “His actions have resulted in the end of his family as it previously existed.”
On Tuesday, the father spoke for more than two hours when he was given the chance to address the court before sentencing.
The judge was not impressed with what he heard.
“He believes he is a victim in this case,” Ouellete said. “That he has not hurt anyone and his family is the one who hurt him.”
The judge noted the father completely denied any wrongdoing and used the Bible to excuse his crimes.
“I believe you may be demented,” Ouellete said Thursday.
“He may be even morally bankrupt. I don’t know.”
The judge did take the father’s guilty pleas into account for sentencing, because for the most part, it spared his victims from having to testify and cross-examination.
Impact on everyone in the system
Outside court, Crown prosecutors admitted the case has taken a toll on everyone who has been involved.
“Anyone who touches the file I think has felt the impact of it,” Suvidha Kalra said. “To walk the complainants through these matters in a way that was both humane and compassionate meant that we were there for them every step of the way. We held a lot of the grief and the pain alongside them.”
On Thursday evening, the father’s youngest daughter released a written statement to the media.
She thanked everyone involved in the case, including prosecutors, defence lawyers, RCMP and the sheriffs.
She also asked for strangers not to pass judgment.
“Anyone who hasn’t been through our experience, please refrain yourself from putting your opinion and judgment into our family’s life,” she wrote. “This is our life. We lived it, and we know what happened.
“We are very grateful for all the kind words and support that we have received. For those who have said negative things without knowing us, we forgive your ignorance.”
The prosecutor said she has been struck by the family’s resilience.
“They have been hurt and they are still refusing to fall,” Kalra said.
That observation is echoed by the youngest daughter.
“We are looking forward to moving on and getting past this,” she wrote. “We will never forget, but we will try our best to turn this experience into something better.”
She revealed she’s currently studying criminal justice and hopes to become a prosecutor.
She said she wants to help people, just like her and her family were helped.